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Lecture 1

CAS PS 231 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Long-Term Potentiation, Dependent And Independent Variables, Amygdala


Department
Psychological & Brain Sciences
Course Code
CAS PS 231
Professor
Barak Caine
Lecture
1

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Caine’s How the Brain Creates Behavior CAS PS 231 B1 Outline 1: Connectionism vs Organology

- the scientific method: hypothesis testing
- the hypothesis must be testable & have a yes/no answer
*know the perspectives of the debates: Connectomics vs. Organology*
- do you need to study all the connections in the brain or can you study the brain as things?
connectionism: connections is the best way to study the brain
- there’s a difference b/w connectionism & connectomics
connectomics: in the extreme case, you have to understand all of the connections in the brain before you
can understand the structure/function of the brain
- geared towards identifying every single connection with neurons (none left out ~ human genome)
organology: at its extreme, you can study the response of the single brain cell, you can understand how
the brain creates behavior
Introduction to Research, Discovery, Conceptual Frameworks:
Connectionism vs Organology
1. Restak vs Caine
Restak, 1979: “The Philosopher’s Myth”:
The brain is necessary for the mind, but the brain is not the mind; the mind is not “things,” it is “ processes” – if
you try to study “bits of the brain” as if it’s made up of “things,” you’ll get it all wrong
- correct # of neurons: 10-100 billion neurons (Restak believes 15 billion neurons)
- ~11,000 synapses (connections)
- you can’t study the brain as “things” bc you have to look at all the connections in order to get the
whole picture
- must look at it as a process (category result from our equating the bran and mind as
things when they are actually processes)
- one a process is understood, the actual mechanisms of how it is carried out are of less
importance
- we have no rules that enable us to know beforehand w/ certainty whether one brain cell is
influencing the activity of another one
- if we focus out attn on the neurons & their interconnections, we’re selecting a level of
organization that can never satisfy our efforts at understanding
- *they key is to focus on the correct level of organization
[Barak thinks that sounds a lot like the search for the “Connectome” what Barak calls “Connectionism” that is
a very popular approach in 2015 – see Lichtman below]
Caine, 2015: “Organology
The brain is made up of “things”. There are neurons, parts of neurons, fibers, brain regions and brain pathways.
Clearly some of those things, whether a part of a neuron (e.g., dendrite) or a brain regions (e.g., amygdala) have
circumscribed functions and can be studied like organs in the periphery can be studied you can compare the
structure and function of the spleen versus the kidney. Likewise, you can compare the structure and function of
a dendrite and a nerve terminal, of hippocampus versus striatum.
- you can study one single cell and understand how the brain works
- Lichtman is doing a cool experiment but not worth the $$
Restak, 1979; O’Keefe, 1971; Lichtman, Ted Talks 2014 p. 1 of 5
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find more resources at oneclass.com

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Caine’s How the Brain Creates Behavior CAS PS 231 B1 Outline 1: Connectionism vs Organology
2. Lashley vs Thompson
Carl Lashley, 1950s:
What was his hypothesis?
- when you think back to something, the activity in your brain (the neurons get activated
somewhere specific) in your brain tissue to provide that stored memory
- engrams (memory traces) exist in a certain location in the brain; if the right brain tissue is
removed, the memory will fail to be restored (he believed it was in the cortex)
What was his experimental method (two things, independent and dependent variable)
- IV: amt of brain tissue taken out from the cortex (surface of the brain)
- DV: latency to find the food (rats in a maze)
What was the result and his conclusion?
- when the brain tissue was taken out, latency to find food went up (were slower)
- memory was not in one specific place (for complex memories); it didn’t matter which part of the
cortex he removed the brain tissue from, the memory was affected
- *engrams are not localized was his conclusion
Richard Thompson, 1980s:
What was his hypothesis?
- engrams are located in the cerebellum; if they are moved, learned conditioned responses will be
gone
What was his experimental method (two things, independent and dependent variable)
- IV: where the engram was taken out
- DV: if the rabbit still knows the learned conditioned response
What was the result and his conclusion? Draw a graph of the results and label so that you understand it.
- if an engram is removed from a specific location of the cerebellum, the rabbit subjects don’t
remember the learned response
- when the neurons are head, CR is gone
- graph: the was 1st line is the CS and the 2nd line is the airpuff
- x-axis: time, y-axis: eye blink
-
       
!!"
after the neurons were
electrocuted:
Restak, 1979; O’Keefe, 1971; Lichtman, Ted Talks 2014 p. 2 of 5
find more resources at oneclass.com
find more resources at oneclass.com
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